Local people from Huayngeun village, Pathoumphone district in Champassak province have reported more sightings of a crocodile which was blamed for having killed a baby in May.
The suspected crocodile attack is reported to have taken place on May 8, when 47 year-old Ms Soudchai Saiyasarn was knocked unconscious while her two year old daughter was killed.
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Local villagers found Ms Soudchai unconscious in the river while her young daughter was lying dead on the shore. She regained consciousness the following day after receiving treatment at the provincial hospital but had no clear recollection of exactly what happened at the riverfront.
Head of Huayngern village, Mr Sinlang Bounyasane, who was among those that reported the crocodile sighting initially, said there had been more sightings since.
“Local people have seen it many times and the most recent occasion was on June 12. Local villagers reported to me that they saw a crocodile swimming towards some children playing near the riverbank.”
It swam slowly towards the group of children; at first they saw only its tail and back and then it raised its snout, Mr Singlang said. An adult in the group told the children to go to the shore. Then one of them fired at it with a slingshot and it disappeared.
The village head said local officials have been on the lookout for the crocodile and have set their nets out in attempt to capture it but so far their efforts have been to no avail. “Now the Mekong water level is high and so it is hard to find it,” Mr Singlang said.
“Some people don’t know the real information and think that it’s a rumour but I can confirm that this is the reality. If people don’t believe it they can come and swim in the Mekong river here,” he challenged the skeptics.
Many people have questioned whether it could have been a crocodile that attacked the woman and killed the child. They have cited the lack of bite marks on the woman or child and the fact that crocodiles are not known to inhabit the Mekong.
Nonetheless, the rumours and reported sightings have fuelled fears in local communities and many people no longer let their children play by the river while some fisherman have also changed their fishing spots.
Some people have speculated that if there is indeed a crocodile it must have escaped from a farm in downstream Cambodia.
Siamese crocodiles are extremely rare in the wild and sightings are few and far between, let alone attacks.
Commercially farmed crocodiles on the other hand are cross bred with larger species of crocodile which can also be more aggressive.
Unless the reported rogue crocodile is captured or killed rumour and speculation can be expected to continue.
The local village chief has appealed for assistance. ‘For the peace of mind of local villagers, we would like some assistance with this,” Mr Sinlang said.
Source: Vientiane Times